Is America ready for a 'Tahrir moment'?
The occupation of Wall Street by the people on September 17 is an exciting and inspiring prospect. The idea of some 20,000 people descending on lower Manhattan and setting up camp for several months would have barely been imaginable just a few short months ago. But that was before the 'Arab Spring' and Tahrir Square. The organisers say its time for a 'Tahrir moment' in the United States.
This is movement that embraces a diverse range of political views but if there is one fundamental message that people like us can take it is this; the machinery of gradual reform is irretrievably broken and simply voting for a set of politicians every few years will only ensure that nothing changes.
As we in New Zealand head to a general election and we are harassed by the politicians we have come to loathe, Occupy Wall Street tells us that the traditional avenue of parliamentary politics has been corrupted by powerful interests. It doesn't matter who we vote for - the wealthy and the powerful always win.
Certainly the Occupy Wall Street movement is striking at the right time. Not only is the American economy a shambolic mess, President Barack Obama - the man who offered 'hope' and promised 'change' - has proven to be yet another politician of the system. Which is what we socialists always said he would turn out to be.
While Obama has bent over backwards to bail out the crooks of Wall Street, for ordinary folk its been nothing but job losses, house foreclosures, growing poverty.
Its not surprising then that Obama's popularity is now plunging to the levels that George W. Bush used to 'enjoy'.
How successful will the occupation be?
It's hard to judge from where I'm sitting but in New York things can gather momentum very quickly. Even so an occupation has never been attempted before and while the American corporate media have studiously avoided talking about Occupy Wall Street, the authorities have begun to move.
Last week the Department of Homeland Security issued an unusual bulletin warning about the 'planned activities' of hacking collective Anonymous in the coming weeks, including activities on September 17.
A heavy police presence is certain and we will have to wait and see whether it tries to prevent the establishment of a camp and whether the camp will continue beyond the immediate weekend.
But there is a lot of anger within American society and it is anger that has yet to find its political voice. Occupy Wall Street may be that voice. As one activist has said:
'... ordinary people must stand up for their rights against the criminals in Wall Street who have destroyed the world's economy and plunged the working people into poverty. While innocent people are put out of business these criminals are still rich and employed and will never ever have to face justice because they have friends in high places.'
Perhaps the sleeping giant that is the American working class is about to stir. If that does happen it will have far reaching - and liberating - consequences all around the world.